Sunday, January 04, 2015
More On The F-35 Debacle - Its Guns Are Useless Until At Leasr 2019!
I - and more importantly, pilots who've flown and tested it - have had a lot to say about the new F-35 stealth fighter.
Aside from being ridiculously expensive to design and produce, the end result after a trillion dollars is an airplane that's too heavy, far too slow and not maneuverable enough to compete in air-to-air combat. It tested so poorly that the Pentagon had to ignore its on standards to pass it, according to a leaked report that actually called the new F-35 unsafe.
Nevertheless, the Defense Department is going to purchase 2,443 of the F-35s in three different versions, for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, starting in 2015. And they're going to replace two superb combat airplanes with it, the F-22 and the workhorse A-10.
The latest episode in this sorry story? Along with its' other problems, the F-35 (AKA the Joint Strike Fighter or JSF) lacks cannon, and even when it finally gets them they are configured as to be virtually useless.
The F-35 uses a GAU-22/A four-barreled rotary cannon. And in order for the pilot to use the gun, it needs special Block 3F software to aim it effectively.
Block 3F's estimated release date? Sometime in 2019, over four years from now. Until then, the F-35 has no operable gunnery.
It gets better. The GAU-22/A is able to fire off 3,300 rounds per minute, but the Air Force's version of the F-35 is designed to carry just 180 rounds. And the Navy and Marines versions are designed to carry only 220 rounds. In other words, a pilot gets one burst of about for a few seconds or so.
That pretty much means that the F-35 is almost useless for ground support, something the A-10 it was supposed to replace is superbly successful at.
The A-10 carries a seven-barrel GAU-8/A Avenger in its nose, with 1,174 rounds and a fixed rate of fire of 3,900 rounds per minute. Not only that, but the Avenger uses 30mm ammo, which can devastate tanks the GAU-22 can't as well as taking out fixed enemy ground positions. The GAU-22/A? Just 25mm ammo, not nearly as deadly...but since these so little of it, it doesn't really make much of a difference.
In fact, a big problem with the F-35 is that while it was designed to do a lot of different jobs (far too many, actually) it really seems only fit for one, that of a BVR (beyond visual range)plane for long-range missile warfare. Aside from the F-35's huge cost and reliability issues, it's far too slow and unmaneuverable to engage in dogfights with competing aircraft, especially when compared to the F-22 it's supposed to replace.And its other weaponry - a pair of Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM long-range air-to-air missiles and two JDAMS, either 1,000 pound satellite-guided bombs or 500 pound laser-guided weapons - are primarily designed for the BVR function.
The F-35's defects aren't lost on foreign purchasers either, with a number of orders being cut severely or canceled. Israel, for instance was supposed to buy 31 F-35's from Lockheed Martin..but cut its order to 14 and may even scratch its F-35 order altogether as more details about the plane leak out.